Nick Sandmann, the face of the Covington Catholic controversy, has filed a $275 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, framing the network’s depiction of him as the “face of an unruly hate mob” as a false and “vicious attack.”
“Contrary to its ‘Facts First’ public relations ploy, CNN ignored the facts and put its anti-Trump agenda first in waging a seven-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas, a young boy who was guilty of little more than wearing a souvenir Make America Great Again cap while on a high school field trip to the National Mall in Washington DC,” the suit says, referencing four “defamatory” broadcast segments and nine articles posted on CNN.com.
Sandmann unwittingly became the face of “white privilege” after a deceptively edited video of him and his friends in “confrontation” with a Native American protester went viral on Twitter, eventually bleeding into the mainstream media, which in turn inspired a torrent of death threats, doxxing, and hate mail against him and his friends. While the full video of the confrontation was available on YouTube, mainstream sources instead ran with the “racist kids in Trump hats” narrative, fanning the flames of outrage.
“The CNN accusations are totally and unequivocally false and CNN would have known them to be untrue had it undertaken any reasonable efforts to verify their accuracy before publication of its false and defamatory accusations,” the suit, filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky, continued. Sandmann is seeking $75 million in compensatory damages for “reputational harm, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by CNN’s false attacks,” plus $200 million in punitive damages.
The CNN suit comes a month after a similar defamation lawsuit was filed against the Washington Post for $250 million – the same amount paid by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to purchase the paper. The Post subsequently printed a lukewarm correction, six weeks after its initial erroneous coverage, which Sandmann’s lawyers called “untimely” and “grossly insufficient,” adding that the paper “did not have the character to apologize to Nicholas and seek his forgiveness.”
Lawyers Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry sent a warning letter to a total of 54 media outlets, celebrities, lawmakers, and church entities who had circulated the deceptive video, warning of future legal action and promising that the Post lawsuit was “only the beginning.”
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